by Tom Utescher
“It’s tough for one team to beat another three times in a row,” said junior Savannah Sweitzer a few days before her Springside Chestnut Hill Academy lacrosse team had its third go-round this season with the Quakers of Penn Charter.
The truth in the old adage was borne out by Sweitzer and the rest of the Blue Devils last Friday, when they won on the road, 9-4, over a PC team that had beaten them by scores of 7-6 and 7-2 in their Inter-Ac League regular-season series.
The most recent encounter between the nearby rivals occurred in the quarterfinal round of the Pennsylvania Independent Schools tournament, where Penn Charter was seeded fourth and SCH fifth.
Sweitzer scored four goals for Springside Chestnut Hill, starting out with a hat trick in the first half that helped the visitors to a 6-2 lead at the break. Her twin sister Delaney (who has also committed to the University of Southern California) had a huge game at the other end of the field, making 23 saves in goal for the Blue Devils.
SCH improved its overall season record to 11-9 and advanced in the tournament to meet in the semifinals with top-seeded Episcopal Academy, which defeated number eight Hill School in another quarterfinal game, 15-5.
“They came out really hard, and they outhustled and outplayed us today,” commented Penn Charter head coach Colleen Magarity. “Delaney was on fire, and their attack was putting away shots when they had the opportunity.”
Springside Chestnut Hill skipper Kasey Mock related, “We had a really focused practice yesterday. Today we really addressed the issue of keeping up a high energy level for an entire game, which was a goal of ours. The girls really fired themselves up – it came from within.”
From out in the flat to the left of the goal, Savannah Sweitzer fed the ball inside to set up a score by fellow 11th-grader Riley Redpath in the fifth minute of Friday’s game. Delaney Sweitzer turned aside a promising shot by PC soon after that, and the Quakers then tied the match at the end of a nice transition sequence out of the defensive half. Sophomore Leah Sax netted the goal with an assist from eighth-grader Darcy Felter.
Sweitzer earned her second assist with just under a dozen minutes left in the first half, when freshman Brooke Prochniak put the Blue Devils ahead to stay. Two minutes later, Delaney Sweitzer denied Charter a tying goal with a save on a free position shot by sophomore Vanessa Ewing.
Savannah Sweitzer moved SCH ahead 3-1 with her first goal of the day, slipping a shot just inside the left post after pocketing a pass from fellow junior Kianah Watson.
From out on the arc on the right, PC’s Ewing found the back of the visitors’ net, and with eight minutes left in the first half, the Quakers were only one goal behind, 3-2.
Following a time-out at that point, no one scored for more than four minutes after play resumed. Then, with 3:50 on the clock, Springside Chestnut Hill started in on a 3-0 run to finish the first half. Two markers by Sweitzer were sandwiched around one by Redpath to make it 6-2 at the intermission.
The Quakers attacked at the outset of the second period and earned a free position in shooting range. Delaney Sweitzer denied this attempt by freshman Mia Ferraro, but she gave up a goal to Felter early in the third minute. Ferraro, a Norwood Fontbonne Academy graduate, was playing against her former NFA classmate Ashley Lynch, who is now at SCH and is also having a strong freshman season.
Savannah Sweitzer came from the rear of the cage to score her fourth goal of the game, then with 15:38 remaining in the game Charter got back within three points once more (7-4) as Felter stuck in her second goal of the day following an assist from the outside by junior Emma Wilson. That would be it for the Quakers, though, as Delaney Sweitzer smothered all of their shots the rest of the way.
Down the stretch, a fourth scorer stepped up for the Blue Devils to really put the game away. Sophomore Dakota Carter drove from the outside to net the visitors’ eighth goal with five-and-half minutes to go. She then converted off of a free positon in the closing minute to tack the final score on the board.
Coach Mock said, “I’ve been telling them that teams really become dangerous when they make the other team have to stop more than just one or two people. Everybody was really ready to go for us today, picking up the slack when we needed them to.”
She noted that there were some in-game adjustments to be made on defense, specifying “They have a number of lefties and we needed to stay aware of that. Overall, we just wanted to focus on our body positioning and getting the slides where we needed.”
Grace Rorke and Catherine Cooney, both seniors bound for Dartmouth College, head up what is otherwise a young defensive unit that includes Rorke’s 10th-grade sister, Abbie, fellow sophomore Caden Traversari and freshman Ainsley Rexford.
Mock added, “Delaney was great in the cage, and she was also smart and patient on her clears.”
Overall, Penn Charter has even more youth in its line-up, routinely playing several freshmen and a trio of eighth-graders.
“We’re super young,” Coach Magarity said, “and the young girls have been stepping up more and more late in the season. Darcy Felter had a great game for us. I told them all to remember what this felt like today, so they want to avoid having to feel that way again.”